If you are interested in the debates about reform of legal capacity legislation in the wake of Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, then you should hot foot it over the Irish Sea (or not, if you’re already in Ireland) for a fabulous one day conference on supported decision-making in theory and practice on 29th April 2013. The conference is organised by Amnesty in conjunction with the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway (where I’m currently working), but I’m not just promoting it because I work here, the line up is fantastic and anyone with an interest in this area is sure to find it interesting.
The context, of course, is that Ireland are in the process of introducing new legislation to replace the nineteenth century ward of court system. Draft bills from 2008 looked a lot like the Mental Capacity Act 2005, and it’s fascinating (given that most NGOs in England seem to think the MCA is the best thing since sliced bread) to see that it has met with tremendous resistance in Ireland from a broad coalition of NGOs, inspired by Article 12 CRPD. If you haven’t a clue what I’m on about regarding Article 12 CPRD, you should read this submission by the Centre on the draft mental capacity bill, and (if you have access to it) you should read the paper by Dhanda (2006-2007, Legal Capacity in the Disability Rights Convention: Stranglehold of the Past or Lodestar for the Future. Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce, 34, 429.)
The event is especially exciting as it includes speakers who have been involved in the drafting and interpretation of the treaty, including Gábor Gambos who sat on the UN CRPD Committee. The mid-morning sessions include two speakers with first hand experience of promoting supported decision making. Cher Nicholson worked with the Office of the Public Advocate in South Australia on a project which trialled supported decision making for people who might otherwise have been subject to guardianship orders (read about it here). Maths Jesperson has experience of the Swedish Personal Ombudsman system – which is often mentioned in writings on Article 12, but there aren’t any evaluations of it published in English so I’m especially excited about hearing about it first hand. The afternoon speakers will consider supported decision making in the context of children.
There are also spaces in the programme for facilitated discussions and a hefty 45 minutes given over to questions and answers. So all those burning questions about the support paradigm, what Article 12 means, and so on, can be aired then.
Hope to see you there!
The programme is as follows: